The buzzword for this week is ‘festive’. Well, it is in so far as I’ve been trying to think of a tenuous link between the festive season (this being December and all) and Festival City. Why? Well, everybody’s excited about Christmas and Festival City is all the more true to its name now that Hard Rock Café (www.hardrockhotels.com) has opened. No, we’re serious. After 12 months of delays and setbacks, the iconic global chain finally opened its doors on November 18. But after being promised a slew of stratospheric celebrity types flying in for the opening, all we got is a press release with lots of exclamation marks. Other high-profile November openings included London club Embassy landing at Grosvenor House, garnering all sorts of C-list celebrity attention. Dubai resident Lisa Scott-Lee (of Steps fame) made an appearance, as did England cricketer Kevin Pietersen and cast members from brain-melting British reality show The Only Way is Essex. Better than a press release full of exclamation marks, I suppose. The reason we’re name-dropping is to seamlessly lead us onto the point that Embassy will also double up as restaurant (beautiful people have to eat too, you know… albeit not that much), which will serve up pan-European favourites (think steak tartare and smoked duck starters, and beef Wellington or Dover sole meuniere for mains) whipped up by Francois Faydherbe de Maudave, formerly of The Savoy, London.
Further up Sheikh Zayed Road but in a no less glamorous location, The Ivy in Jumeirah Emirates Towers (04 319 8767) has finally succumbed to Dubai’s favourite mealtime: brunch. Well, not quite. It’s actually just a three-course set menu that’s served on Fridays and includes a beverage on arrival (Dhs275), so hardcore all-you-can-eat connoisseurs (a contradiction in terms, methinks) shouldn’t get too excited. The staff say they want to avoid the typical boozy brunch and make it more of a lazy family affair – think bread and jam and the Friday papers on arrival. Anyone who has been appreciating The Ivy’s good food, reasonable prices and excellent service might want to take a look.
Speaking of The Ivy’s service, a Time Out spy grew a little tired of one of the staff there – as charming as he was – repeatedly asking if she was sure there was nothing wrong with the meal. Have a little faith in yourselves, guys. And while we’re having a mild grumble, we wish Jones the Grocer (04 346 6886) would let customers sit on both sides of the restaurant in the mornings, rather than just one – some of us want peace and quiet, not boisterous children, when feeling tender on a Friday morning.
And with that, we bid you adieu and bon appétit.